Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Song Doesn't Always Remain the Same

From "American Graffiti" to "10 Things I Hate About You," to all the teen films in between, two things remain constant: Hollywood's desire to glamorize high school, and the fact that high school just ain't so glamorous.

Do Kidz These Dayz spend hours and hours driving around, hooking up and breaking up? You betcha, but never with as much class and panache as they did in "AG" and in "Grease." To begin with, gas is almost $4 a gallon, so all the driving they do is metaphorical. And, Don't Forget: They've got the Internet, so hooking up and breaking up are oh, so much more Easy and Fun!

Do KTD have a high school that looks like a Renaissance-era castle or a guidance counselor who's writing a porn novel? Do they go sailing on Puget Sound or do they commandeer the school's PA system to ask a girl out, as in "10 Things"? They wish.

We do have Our Little Dramas in Real Teen Life. Over the years at OHHS, coaches and teachers have hit on their students (the swim coach went for a girl, & the choir director went for a boy); we've had teachers who hook up with each other (one couple even got married in the school auditorium), and we've had the requisite number of break-ups and make-ups within the student body, but the fact remains that high school will always be Just Plain High School, no matter how much Hollywood wishes another "Breakfast Club" or "Ferris Bueller" could be born in our slightly sour hallways. Smells Like Teen Spirit, don't it?

Dan dumps Sarah after 10 months, even though she's the nicest, smartest, prettiest 18-year-old you'll ever want to meet. Definitely his loss. Lauren pursues Nick, with the ultimate goal of getting him to ask her to Prom. When he does, and she says "Yes," this Fairytale Romance immediately heads for the rocks when L gets a "better offer" from a hunk she thought was well out of reach. Jake and Beth become a "couple," even though she's a senior and headed off to college, and he's a junior who's never had a girlfriend and is Brand New at this Romance Stuff.

Of course, there's the other side of the edgy, witty, sharp Teen Comedy--the High School Musical genre, which is aimed at the Tween Set and in no way resembles any American high school, public or private. Disney equals Imaginary Kingdom, is all we'd like to say.

The closest Hollywood has come to replicating Real Life--for teenagers, anyway--is the delightful & diabolical "Mean Girls." But that was written by Tina Fey, and featured Lindsay Lohan before she disappeared into Britney Spears La-La Land (but we fear that Brit is Back in a Big Way--stay tuned!). Fey is the best thing that's happened to SNL in 20 years. We hope she keeps her scalpel sharpened for many years to come.

Is it a bad thing that Real Life doesn't replicate what we see on The Big Screen? We don't think so. As Elizabeth I told her loyal subjects, "A clear and innocent conscience fears nothing." Elizabeth, being The Virgin Queen and all, was familiar (metaphorically speaking, of course) with the Innocence of Youth. Their relative innocence makes high school students hopeful. And fearless. Most of them haven't become BFFs with the sanctuary of cynicism. Not yet, anyway.

Of course, the good news about teen movies is that no one stays 18 forever. Even Sean Penn & Nicholas Cage grew up after they filmed "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" in 1982. And got better looking, too.


chalkdustmakesmesneeze said...


Sean Hogan said...

One thing-last year, a girls lax player was asked to prom via the "10 Things method," singing over the PA during a game.


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